Full Coverage: Links From All Over (June 29, 2009)


[Twitter/Meghan McCain] Oh well look at that, important political daughter Meghan McCain is all up in the Twitters, talking about getting tattooed! As we know, she used to joke about getting tattooed when her pops, John McCain, was running for President, hoping that it would give him flashbacks or something. But now that her father has retired from the presidency, she is free to get all the tattoos she pleases while he naps. At least, judging by this recent “tweet,” she has good taste in artists. That said, it’s refreshing to know that not even government tattoo snobs like the McCains can jump the line with Paul Booth. Vote Paul Booth in 2012!

[First Amendment Center] A few months back, we covered this sordid tale of some murdering shitbag who had all sorts of demonic tattoos that lawyers tried to use against him in court, and we were generally bummed out by everyone involved in the situation being so distasteful and unsympathetic. To recap:

Martin Robles and his shit-demon accomplice were indicted for breaking into a home in 2002 and killing two men, crimes for which Robles was sentenced to death in Texas. He lost an appeal, then made a last-ditch effort to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming, among other things, that his First Amendment rights were violated during the trial. [...] [He argued] that his religious-liberty rights were violated when the state placed into evidence his tattoo of a religious figure. As described in trial proceedings, the tattoo depicted “Jesus with a demon devouring his brains.”

Now, I’m not an attorney, but I usually catch about 25 minutes of Law & Order: SVU a night, so I understand the importance of legal precedence in cases like this. In the quoted case, much was made of a 1992 trial, Dawson v. Delaware, in which tattoos were of central importance:

[U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack] distinguished Robles’ case from the 1992 case Dawson v. Delaware, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a defendant’s First Amendment associational rights were violated when prosecutors introduced into evidence his membership in a white supremacist group when such association had nothing to do with the underlying crime. [...] However, the Court in Dawson pointed out that “elements of racial hatred were … not involved in the killing.”

Well boy howdy, another case just rolled through that’s invoking Dawson yet again! And…it’s even dumber than the one with the Jesus-eating zombie thing.

A trial court did not violate the First Amendment rights of a criminal defendant when it allowed a prosecutor to comment, and a county sheriff to testify, on a defendant’s “Lying Eyes” tattoos during closing arguments, a Texas appeals court ruled recently.

A jury had convicted Michael Lee Wood of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for brutally beating a convenience store clerk with a sharp object in Haskell, Texas. During the punishment phase of the trial, the prosecutor elicited testimony from Haskell County Sheriff David Halliburton. The sheriff testified that Wood had a tattoo on each eyelid. One tattoo read “Lying” and the other read “Eyes.” Wood’s attorney contended such evidence was irrelevant. The prosecutor countered that the “Lying Eyes” tattoos showed Wood’s lack of respect for society.

This, apparently, was not a violation of his First Amendment rights due to the fact that his eyelid tattoos were supposedly evidence of a lack of moral character, and not some manner of gang affiliation. Again, I really, really hate to be put into a position to offer any sort of defense on the behalf of goons like this, but this seems like a bad precedent to set. The Jesus brain thing? Sure, that probably wouldn’t play well with conservative/religious folks, but “Lying Eyes” on someone’s eyelids? What, are we just going to start locking up people who get shitty puns tattooed on them?

Actually, when you put it that way….

[Norwich Bulletin] Oh baby, so we were all just waiting to see how those jackals in the “mainstream media” would react to, uh whatshername, the girl with all the stars tattooed on her face? Well, here go! This sack of garbage disguised as a column is honestly the most paint-by-numbers, thoughtless pablum I’ve seen in quite some time. But don’t take my word for it! Let’s hear what you have to say, Sharma Howard!

There’s one thing I know for sure I don’t want to see on my sons:

The roof of your house! A burning car! A murderous lion!

tattoos.

That’s the “one thing [you] know for sure” you don’t want to see on your songs? No offense, lady, but my answers are way deadlier.

When I was growing up, tattoos were for the fringe of society — and the two adults I knew that had them always kept them covered up in embarrassment.

Now, tattoos adorn movie stars such as Angelina Jolie, who makes for an odd sight in an evening gown and lines of Oriental writing marching up her neck. It’s jolting, to be sure.

“Oriental” is not the preferred nomenclature, dude! Anyway, yes, Angelina Jolie should pretty much be ashamed of herself, at all times. That’s where you were going with that, right?

Now, 36 percent of 18-25 year-olds have tattoos, inching towards the 50/50 mark that would make having a tattoo almost blase.

“Blase” is kind of a poor word choice in this instance but whatever, sure. Now, get ready for the reappearance of our old friend Starface!

I watched in horror when the young teen from Belgium claimed in the news the 56 black stars that now blanket her face like a constellation were the result of a tattoo artist gone wild as she slept. The story had many people skeptical, but one look at the tattoo artist, who had his own face covered in tattoos and had stretched his skin with heavy piercings stirred sympathy for the 18-year old.

Look, we’re not necessarily going to defend the artist’s somewhat poor judgment in this case, but we don’t recall there being a ton of sympathy for Starface. We will grant you, however, that seeing Rouslan in an evening gown can be a jolting experience. I would quote more from this chumbucket but once I got to the seventh paragraph I fell asleep for a hundred years. “Enjoy” it on your own, if you must.

Full Coverage: Links From All Over (June 11, 2009)

[Shutdown Corner] Well, here’s the biggest tattoo-related non-story of the day. Chad Ochocinco, the Cincinnati Bengals safety formerly known as Chad Johnson, is, for those unfamiliar with the NFL, one of the bigger clowns in the league. (See: Legally changing his last name to a mangled Spanish translation of his jersey number.) Anyway! Mr. Ochocinco, like so many athletes, has wandered into the land of Twitteronia, and made this startling announcement yesterday:

Yall might not believe me but my tatoo guy is here and i getting my face done, looks cool to, dont be mad just accept the Ocho please

The tattoo, as you can see, is of America’s wang, the state of Florida. Has your world been turned upside down? Well, keep your head on, folks: It was just a gag! Yep, this prankster just had someone Photoshop a smudge onto his mug. Ha ha, hilarious…?

The entire twitt world and media outlets got punked, that was my twitt joke from yesterday, they follow I’ll have fun with it.

My grandma would kill me if I had damn facial tatts!!! Fun while it lasted, back to normal, I felt different to.

In conclusion, you are never getting those five minutes or wasted brain cells back.

[The Globe and Mail] Whoa ho, what’s this? Actual good legal news about tattoos? It is! Nadine Bélisle, a daycare worker in Quebec, has been embroiled in a legal battle for five years now over whether or not she should be allowed to display the tattoo on her shoulder while on the job. Well, the results are in, and a Quebec Superior Court judge has decided that the policy that forced her to cover up was, in fact, a violation of her rights. Hot damn.

“Five years of frustrations have collapsed. I’m thrilled,” Ms. Bélisle, 35, said in an interview yesterday from her home in Saguenay. “This is a question of human rights, of freedom of expression.”

The May 27 ruling brings legal heft to the murky question of what’s appropriate to wear in the workplace, at a time of relaxing attitudes to dress codes. While body piercings and dressing down seem to be gaining acceptance, there are signs that more employers are drawing the line. This week, University of Montreal hospitals adopted dress codes for employees that prohibit jeans, short skirts and tattoos deemed to be in bad taste.

For Ms. Bélisle’s union, the visible-tattoo ban by the CPE La Pirouette, one of Quebec’s publicly funded daycares, went too far.

“Publicly funded” being the operative term there, I believe. I’m not sure whether or not this sort of ruling would apply to private businesses, and whether or not private enterprises should be beholden to the same standards of personnel decisions as public businesses is another matter altogether. As far as this case is concerned, the daycare’s position was that, while some tattoos are surely inoffensive, some may not be appropriate for the environment, and so a blanket ban was, for them, preferable to having to decide what was acceptable on a case-by-case basis. The ban, however, was determined to be prejudicial in nature, and that while violent or vulgar tattoos will still have to be covered, the majority will be free for display:

“Tattooing nowadays is a phenomenon that cuts across all levels of society,” [Judge Jean Bouchard] wrote. “If it was once associated with delinquents, that’s no longer the case.”

The daycare’s policy forced an employee with a tattoo of a butterfly or flower on her forearm or calf to wear pants or a long-sleeved shirt, even while working under a hot summertime sun, he wrote.

“This is, in the opinion of the court, ridiculous and outrageous.”

The daycare will still have the right to prohibit inappropriate tattoos including those expressing violence.

And that, well, that’s a fine precedent to set.

[Jason Dunn] And finally, Jason Dunn, a techie fella from Calgary, was vacationing in Japan when he came across this tattoo studio, bearing what he thinks may just be the worst (or at least the funniest) name for a tattoo studio possible. Oh, comical translations. We’ll let FailBlog decide.

Full Coverage: Links From All Over (March 20, 2009)


[Telegraph.co.uk] So here’s some good old fashioned Finnish ingenuity! Jerry Jalava, a software programmer from Helsinki, lost half a finger in a motorcycle accident almost a year ago, and the doctor, when told what Jalava did for a living, was a bit of a wise-ass and told Jalava he should get a USB drive installed in place of his missing digit. Jalava briefly snapped out of his blissful morphine sleep to slap this chuckling goon in the face, but then it occurred to him that maybe this wasn’t the worst idea!

Using a traditional prosthetic finger Jerry has been able embed a ‘USB key’ – like the ones used in traditional flash drives – giving him the world’s only two gigabyte finger.

The finger is not permanently attached to his hand meaning it can be removed when plugged into a computer.

“It is not attached permanently in to my body, it is a removable prosthetic which has USB memorystick inside it,” said Jerry.

“When I’m using the USB, I just leave my finger inside the slot and pick it up after I’m ready.”

Jerry said he is already thinking about upgrading his faux finger to include more storage and wireless technology.

“I’m planning to use anther prosthetic as a shell for the next version, which will have removable fingertip and an RFID tag,” he added.

Not that losing a segment of a finger is the worst thing in the world, but it’s still nice nonetheless to see people finding creative ways to deal with inconveniences (if not disabilities) beyond their control. The real hero in this story, however, is me, for making it the entire way without making a single “thumb-drive” joke. Oh, damn it.

(Photo: NEWSTREAM)

[Toronto Star] This story has been bubbling up for a little while now, and we’ve been meaning to get an “in the know” guest on the podcast to discuss it (hopefully that’ll happen in the next couple of days), but Moonshin Tattoo in Mississauge, Ontario, has come under fire for poor record-keeping of its sterilization practices over a four-year period. A mandatory alert was sent out to all clients of the shop who visited during the period in question, saying that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Now, a $20 million class-action lawsuit has been filed against both the owners of Moonshin and Peel Region itself, with the suit claiming the latter failed to inspect the shop over that period, thereby allowing Moonshin to go on with its irresponsible practices. As the article states, “(p)ublic health authorities are required to inspect at least once a year personal services shops, such as tattoo and piercing studios, barbershops and others where there is a risk of exposure to blood.”

Truth be told, the chances of anyone having contracted anything are slim, but this is a clusterfuck any way you look at it. There’s no excuse for not keeping sterilization paperwork in order at this point, and even though the government is supposed to be monitoring that activity, when it comes to public opinion, situations like these do nothing but reinforce shitty stereotypes about tattoo and piercing shops. Well done, Moonshin.

[First Amendment Center] Oh, great, here’s a situation with literally nary a sympathetic party! Martin Robles and his shit-demon accomplice were indicted for breaking into a home in 2002 and killing two men, crimes for which Robles was sentenced to death in Texas. He lost an appeal, then made a last-ditch effort to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming, among other things, that his First Amendment rights were violated during the trial. How so?

[He argued] that his religious-liberty rights were violated when the state placed into evidence his tattoo of a religious figure. As described in trial proceedings, the tattoo depicted “Jesus with a demon devouring his brains.”

Oh. That probably didn’t go over very well in Texas.

During the trial, the judge forced him to remove his jacket and show the tattoo, located on his shoulder, to jurors.

[...]

During the penalty phase of Robles’ trial, the prosecutor said:

“You have a demon eating the brains of Christ. … Now, I don’t know what that means, but to me it’s a bad thing. That to me is a philosophy. I don’t know if it’s satanic. I don’t know what in the Sam Hill it is, but if it tells you something about him as a person, that ought to tell you where his belief system is. His conduct shows you where his belief system is.”

Robles contended that the references to the religious nature of the tattoo and the “satanic” and “belief systems” comments by the prosecutor infringed on his First Amendment free-exercise-of-religion right.

Thank you, Texas judge, for forcing me to side with a double-murderer on something. I’m no lawyer (though I’m happy to dispense legal advice for a small fee), but offensive tattoos that don’t actually make direct political statements should probably be immaterial when deciding the fate of a man’s life, right? Unless the guy was killing priests—or worse, Jesus—I’m just not sure what role it should have played in the decision. There’s even a precedent set to that effect, which was consciously set in contrast in this case:

[U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack] distinguished Robles’ case from the 1992 case Dawson v. Delaware, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a defendant’s First Amendment associational rights were violated when prosecutors introduced into evidence his membership in a white supremacist group when such association had nothing to do with the underlying crime. [...] However, the Court in Dawson pointed out that “elements of racial hatred were … not involved in the killing.”

But in Texas, a demon eating Jesus’s brain is, I guess, worse than being a white supremacist.

Applying Dawson, Jack determined that the question was whether Robles’ tattoo was relevant evidence to his underlying crime and violent nature. She concluded that the “tattoo constitutes evidence relevant to a material issue, i.e., Robles’s violent nature and the likelihood that he would commit future acts of criminal violence.”

What we should be taking away from this, in the end, is that Mike Beer will never get out of jail when he’s arrested.


BME Legal Update


(IAM: xTewFittyx‘s BME logo’d feet by Joey G. at Sure-Fire Tattoos)

Hi, folks. If you’ll recall, I mentioned a while back that BME was embroiled in a silly lawsuit with world-famous cybersquatter Greg Ricks. To recap, Ricks owned the BME.com domain and used it to host photos and ads related to body modification, which makes for a pretty clear-cut case of intellectual property theft. I tried to purchase the domain from him several times, and each time he would agree in principle, only to jack up the price at the last minute. (Shocking, right? If you can’t trust a professional cybersquatter, then really, what’s left in this world?) This grew tiresome, and BME filed a suit against him before the World Intellectual Property Organization,  which promptly found in favor of BME. (Also discussed here.) Easy enough, right? All’s well that ends well and all that good stuff?

Well, no. Ricks decided to play the agitator, and made the preposterous claim that not only was he within his rights to use BME.com as a means of generating income by way of diverting traffic from BME, but that we were infringing on his copyright! Seriously! He actually said this! So he countersued (also claiming that BME is only a “pornography site”), and on goes this ridiculous comedy of errors.

Here’s where things start to get interesting. See, you get to learn a lot of fun stuff during court cases. Now, maybe it could be realistically argued that registering a three-letter domain like BME.com is just good business sense, and that Ricks had no intention of capitalizing on the sort of content that BME offers until he saw the huge spike in traffic he got from visitors trying to come to us, and then he decided to put up some stolen images and tattoo links and such. This is a charitable perspective, to say the least.

Except, ha ha, there is convincing information to suggest that Ricks is either heavily involved in or solely comprises Gee Whiz Domains, an outfit that seems to have a disproportionately large number of cybersquatting domains.  BME.com is one thing, but when you take into account that Gee Whiz is also sitting on such frequently typo’d destinations as “yahooemai.com,” “msnnb.com,” “officedepo.com” and “cnnmmoney.com,” well … something doesn’t smell right. (For more on this, go here.)  

For more fun facts, consider that Gee Whiz also owns domains like: drugdealer.netyoungpreteenlolitagirls.comunderagelolitaphotos.com, and xxxanimalclips.com.  Drug dealing, underage girls, and bestiality.  What fun.  It may be that Gee Whiz only does business with Mr. Ricks, but if our suspicion is proven true — that Ricks is the owner of Gee Whiz — his accusation that we are a porn site will look really funny in light of his domain portfolio. (Ricks actually just lost a similar case, but for some reason decided not to follow that one up with another silly counter-suit. I guess we’re just lucky.)

The dispute largely centers on Ricks’s assertion that BME’s claim to “BME” is invalid, and that we have branded ourselves as “BMEzine,” which is simply not true. From day one, the “brand” has always been “BME,” whether it’s been:

  • Internal use, such as an April 11, 1997, site update that included references to “BME News,” a message mentioning that “BME is user-supported,” and a copyright notice that  plainly refers to “BME: Body Modification Ezine.” Oh, and cross-site use throughout the years, including features such as “BMEradio,” “Your BME,” “BME/live,” “BME/extreme,” “BME/HARD,” and contact links instructing users to “Contact BME.”  (More on this here.)
  • Users on websites as far removed from the usual subject matter with which BME deals as travellerspoint.com asking for advice about where to get tattooed while on vacation, only to have another reader mistakenly suggest BME.com as the ideal reference point; the reader quickly corrected himself and pointed the original author at BMEzine.com. Apparently, people expect BME.com to be the domain of BME! (More on this here.)
  • References in the media, including: The Guardian (London) mentioning on September 11, 1997, that “BME is a Body Modification E-Zine [...] devoted to [...] piercings and tattoos”; National Public Radio including discussion of “the online magazine BME, Body Modification Ezine” in a June 7, 2003, broadcast about tongue-splitting legislation in Illinois; and a United Press International report from March 16, 2004, writing of “BME — Body Modification Ezine — a popular online forum dedicated to educating people and promoting issues about body piercing and modification.” (More on this here.)
  • But don’t take their word for it! Body modification experts like Master Piercer Elayne Angel and Allen Falkner have gone on the record to emphatically state that BME has always been the signifier for our site, not to mention the launching point for complementary projects such as “BMEvideo.com,” “BMEshop.com,” “BMEfest.com,” TeamBME.com,” AskBME.com” and “BMEworld.com,” among several others. Because, you know, it has been.

    How’s this for a barnburner, though? A Florida-based lawyer named Kevin Wimberly (who, it just so happens, is also a self-proclaimed “tattoo enthusiast”) caught wind of this  case, and it reminded him of a paper he wrote while in law school entitled “Tattooed Identity: Resolving the Tension Between Statutory Copyright Law, Identity, and Skeptical Subculture.” Much of the research for this paper was done with the help of BME’s article archives, and Wimberly claims he’s been using BME as a resource since at least the year 2000, and that, “[if] any other company used the designation BME, it would confuse me and anyone else in the marketplace.” (More on this here.)

    So, even with all of that said, the cybersquatter is still making the argument that the “BME” name is his, and that we have been the ones wrongly using it all this time, which is his right as an American, I guess? Anyway, I just wanted to give you all an update on this silliness, and with any luck, this will all be settled soon. I’ll keep you in the loop. And of course, as always, thank you for supporting BME — without all of you, there’d be nothing to fight for!